A little over a year ago I was standing in the kitchen and heard the news that all winter sports would be cancelled for middle and high school students. I can remember the deep sigh and mourning I felt for all students who turned to sports as an outlet, a passion, a chance for a future. One more thing in COVID stripped from them. And then a stark realization hit that for some students, this was normal; their families couldn’t afford the athletic gear, fees, and other costs for them to ever participate. How is that right?? Kids are our collective future.
Now, I grew up in a house in which “life isn’t fair” was a common response to our complaints. But there is a limit to that. We can debate whether or not everyone should get a participation medal; but every student, every child, should be able TO participate. And in a community such as ours, we have the means to make that happen.
Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about every child attending private sports, music or art lessons. This is so a student doesn’t see his fellow classmates participate in school band and knows that he can never join because his family can’t afford to rent an instrument or buy the reeds to use the school loaner. The OPPORTUNITY to try a sport, join a club, or learn an instrument exists at our schools. But through no fault of the student, ACCESS, unfortunately, does not.
For years now, society has bantered around how to make opportunities more equal so everyone can pursue their dreams. We have college scholarships for disadvantaged students, establish quotas for a more diverse workforce, and create internship programs for greater access. But all of those come AFTER the most formative years in any person’s life - elementary, middle, and high school.
Thus, Start 1 Spark was born. Through the support of businesses and people throughout the community, opportunities to be involved in extracurricular activities are provided, giving students a greater springboard for success.
I hope you will join me in starting hundreds of sparks and set alight a brighter future for us all.